North Korea’s latest missile test is part of a broader strategy to showcase the growing reach of its weapons of mass destruction. This highly destabilising behaviour portends an agenda of nuclear coercion, and it’s something we should be worried about.

Yesterday’s test overflying Japan was the second within three weeks and follows two successful ICBM tests in July that confirmed North Korea’s ability to strike distant targets, including Australia. Intelligence assessments now converge on the reality that Pyongyang is close to placing nuclear warheads on delivery systems with a strike radius of up to 10,000 kilometres. The recent test of what appears to be a hydrogen device indicates North Korea may be on the cusp of acquiring thermonuclear warheads.

Pressure is building on the US to act resolutely against North Korea. So far, President Trump has been inconsistent – one day threatening “fire and fury” against Kim Jong-un, the next day praising him as a “wise and well-reasoned” leader. America’s allies are increasingly confused, and US extended deterrence credibility risks being eroded if Washington fails to provide leadership in pushing back hard against North Korea’s outlaw behaviour.

China and Russia have divested themselves of responsibility by calling for restraint “on all sides” and resisting proposals for tougher sanctions. New sanctions this past week tighten those in place, but fall short of the harder-edged measures needed if sanctions are to have any meaningful effect.

Please click here to read the full “It’s dangerous to indulge Kim Jong-un” article published at the Financial Review, written by Griffith Asia Institute members, Professor Andrew O’Neil and Associate Professor Michael Heazle.